I was just passing the time doing various quizzes on FB tonight, and one of them was on "What does your facial shape tell about you". And the result was :
+ Always work hard.
+ Handles financial problem smartly.
+ Has an outstanding will to succeed.
+ Has a clear plan for life.
+ Can be quite ego at times.
(Never mind the grammar lah ye? :))
As with most of the quizzes on FB, I had to ponder on whether any of the above actually rang true about me, and I have to say some of them are dead right, while some are fitnah semata-mata (but, I'm not going to say here which ones are which, okay?! Hehehe!) EXCEPT that in a way I somewhat agree with #2 (Well, at least NOT until about 5 years ago, that is). And I wouldn't say I'm 'smart' when it comes to handling financial problems or matters. Maybe 'prudent' would be a better way to describe me. So, bear with me when I share something with you all here, okay?
I'm also moved to share this after reading Meen's (JazzmaTazz :))post on her blog about how now she spends less on shopping as she becomes more contented with life :) And how all the unnecessary spending has dwindled down over the last couple of years. And I agree with her. When you're contented with what you have (doesn't have to be a material thing), you tend to shop less. And to add to that, I believe that once we shop less, we will be able to start saving systematically. And the result - we'll be more contented and happier with basically everything and everybody around us :)
I have to confess - before 2004, Ayah and I were not thrifty with our money at all. We never consciously saved our dosh, and we never kept track of where our money went. Whenever our salary came in, we would just withdraw whatever amount we wanted, signed our cheques freely, and we would just charge most of our shoppings to our credit cards. And normally, due to our free flow spending (of our chiput pay), most of the times we only managed to pay the minimum amount for the credit cards. And more often than not, there was "more-month-at-the-end-of-the-money" (rather than "more money-at-the-end-of-the-month" for us!) Ye lah kan...both of us kerja gomen, kan? So, you all can imagine how much interests we had to pay to the credit card companies on the never-ending outstanding amount! Scandalous, I tell you...
But, everything changed when we were in the UK in 2003-04, when we had to live on my meagre scholarship and on Ayah's pay as a fellow at a hospital in Middlesborough. There were six of us - we all anak beranak plus our helper, Cek Pi. We still received our basic pay in Malaysia at that time, but we decided not to touch our pay if we could help it.
I can't remember what actually happened which made us decide to start saving systematically, but, I think one of the reasons was that we realized that we had an opportunity to start saving seriously as we had a few sources of income then. And we set a target to settle all our outstanding credit card bills by the end of 2004. It was then, the "Demam Bajet" hit me :)
I actually went out to get a hardcover notebook one day, and started laying out the structure of our saving plans, and roughly decided to identify our two sources of income which we would have to live on while in the UK - my scholarship, and Ayah's fellowship pay.
And we started dividing allocations for our routine and recurring expenses between these two sources. I can't really remember the actual items, but roughly, for my own allowances and transportation costs, the rent, my study materials, and the utility bills - these would be paid with my monthly scholarship. And Ayah's pay would go towards payment of his petrol and toll money, his car maintenance, the groceries, clothings, anything that the children may need, for our travels, shopping, allowances for Cek Pi, and of course towards paying for the credit cards.
Whatever was left of my scholarship (which more often than not was nothing to shout about, as it would be gone even before I could shout), I would keep for myself, and normally that would cover all those petty miscellaneous expenses and shopping for me. And whatever left of Ayah's pay, we would transfer the money to our account in Malaysia.
So, throughout our stay in the UK, I kept a budget book, which I worked on at the end of each month, and also in the middle of the month (to modify our budget to accommodate any ad hoc expenses). And this was how I did it -
(1) I would look at how much money there was in each of our income sources for the month - my allowance/scholarship and Ayah's pay.
(2) Work on income source #1, and see how much balance would be left after all the compulsory expenses had been taken into account.
(3) Repeat Step 2 for income source #2.
(4) Set aside some amount for emergencies.
(5) The rest, we transferred to our Malaysian account and also to our UK Savings Account.
(6) We tried our best to stick to the budget.
(7) Failing #6, Step #4 would save us :)
Once we had got into the rhythm of saving, no matter how chiput the balance may be, we would save it. It just became a habit. And until now, I still keep a budget book with me all the time. The current one started with our December 2005 budget. So, you all can imagine how very the lunyai the book is now!
But, the division of expenses has changed somewhat since our UK days.
Now, MY pay goes to MY account.
AYAH's pay goes to OUR joint account. ;)
MY pay would go towards paying for -
* Our monthly grocery spendings (fixed)
* My own petrol/toll/meals allowances (fixed)
* The household utility bills (Tenaga, Syabas, Astro, TM, Maxis) - depends on usage
* My Kembara Car Loan (fixed)
* Standing Instruction for our Unit Trusts (fixed)
* The Home Guard Service (fixed)
* The Kids Piano Fees (fixed)
* The Kids School Allowances (fixed)
* The monthly contributions to my Abah and Mommy (minimum amount fixed, and insya Allah kalau rezqi lebih, will tambah accordingly :))
And whatever balance from there, depending on my mood - I would either put them in the savings account, OR spend it like there's no tomorrow! Hahaha! And let me tell you here - more often than not, it would be the latter ;)
As for AYAH'S pay, it goes towards the following -
* SD House Loan (fixed)
* BJ House Loan (fixed)
* His Naza Car Loan (fixed)
* His Accord Car Loan (fixed)
* His own petrol/toll/meals allowances (Yup! Fixed, too! Kesian kan? I ration his food!)
* Family outings (fixed)
* Shopping money (flexible :))
* All the credit cards (The amount depends on whether the wife goes mental during The Sales or not...)
* Monthly premiums for all the insurance policies we took up.
* Kids fees for Mengaji, Traditional Dance, Chess, Swimming, Guitar, Tuitions (fixed)
* Spending for various contingency/emergencies (fixed)
And whatever balance left, we would transfer to our Savings on the day our monthly pay is credited into our accounts. This is so that our fresh pay is not 'mixed' with the balance :) And if ada rezqi lebih, we will top up the kids' savings, insya Allah.
So, as you can see - yang had besaq-besaq punya belanja semua cheq pass kat dia.... Cerdik naaa?! :)
And this has been our practice for the last 5 years. And I still do it twice a month - the original budget at the end of the month, and the review in the middle of the month - to take into account any unforeseen expenses which may crop up for that particular month, and modify the budget accordingly.
And we make a point to pay our credit card bills in full every month as we don't want to fork out the unnecessary extras to pay for the interests! To do that, we REALLY have to discipline ourselves to spend within our means.
And syukur alhamdulillah, nowadays we see more-money-at-the-end-of-the-month, than more-month-at-the-end-of-the-money, insya Allah. Tak banyak, sikit pun - it is still our savings :)
Please don't get me wrong. My niat is just to share our system of saving money however little it may be, with you all, which works for us, and if you guys would want to experiment with it to see if the system may work for you all, too (IF you still have not found an effective system for you). And also, if you guys may also want to share your system here with us here :)
Personally, I feel that the things that we should always bear in mind are :
* We should always be looking out for any opportunities which come our way which may help us save more.
* We should always spend ONLY within our means.
* Do not mix the previous month's salary with the current one - ALWAYS save whatever balance you have IMMEDIATELY.
* We can splurge every now and then (but only when you feel that with whatever savings you've done, you deserve to splurge :))
* Jangan terlampau save duit sampai jadi kedekut, and tak spend on yourselves, your loved ones, and your friends, and of course bersedekah.
AND Yang paling penting for us para isteri - bila kita belanjakan duit gaji kita untuk perbelanjaan yang seharusnya ditanggung oleh suami kita, kita MESTI IKHLAS, SEIKHLAS-IKHLASNYA... Jangan ada rasa resentment walau sedikit pun. Insya Allah, rezqi kita sekeluarga murah... :)
Anyway, I thought I'd share with you how my Budget Book looks like here -
Nampak macam belacan, kan? ;)
Tapi belacan yang banyak berjasa ni... Hehehe!